Managing your money online has become much easier with the help of services that monitor your bank accounts and other financial information. I've found five sites that do a fine job of providing information and data to help you make more informed financial decisions.
Buxfer offers a simple tool for managing your money online. And since it lacks in-depth assessment into your financial health, it's great for beginners.
Buxfer allows you to link your credit card and bank accounts to the site. If they belong to a major institution like Bank of America, the site asks you if you want it to synchronize the accounts for you. If so, it will then ask you to input your bank username and password and indicate how often Buxfer should synchronize.
Where Buxfer really shines is in its simplicity. The service features easy-to-understand tabs that provide step-by-step instructions on how to add accounts, see reports, and create budgets. In fact, creating accounts and budgets takes just a few minutes to complete. That said, Buxfer's reports leave much to be desired and they generally tend to offer simple information--revenue, expenses, and balances--instead of more important data like estimates and projections. I should note that projections are available, but only in the premium version of the service.
Buxfer is simple and responsive. If you're looking for something basic, it's a great place to start.
If you want some extra help beyond tracking your financial information, Geezeo does a fine job. But much like Buxfer, it fails to provide extensive data to keep you exceptionally informed.
Geezeo is easy to use, which makes it appealing to beginners. After signing up for an account, users can add bank account information, as well as credit cards, loans, and investments. Geezeo will track all the changes in those accounts once added. Armed with that information, Geezeo creates a budget for you and sets goals to see how well you're managing your money. The site also generates reports to help you see where you stand financially. But much like Buxfer, those reports are too simple to offer in-depth and most importantly, actionable information.
But it's Geezeo's community that the company touts. Aside from providing financial information, Geezeo lets you connect with other users and ask them for financial advice. Users can also create groups where like-minded individuals can discuss financial goals, and for harder questions you can ask Geezeo "Experts" for help. Most of the time, those tips are generic, though.
Geezeo is a fine service if you want to connect with others during your financial planning. And since it's free, it's probably worth trying for a little while, at least.
Mint is a fine service that takes aim at Quicken Online. But unlike Quicken, it doesn't provide the kind of depth that you would expect from a full-featured money management tool.
Similar to its competitors, Mint allows you to input account and credit card information, as well as create a personal budget and manage investments. Its core function is to look at your spending habits and recommend offers that will help you save money. If you have a high-interest credit card, or you're spending too much on a bill, Mint's advertising network will find offers from partners and suggest you sign-up for the respective service. If you do, Mint gets a small portion of the revenue generated from that switch.
Mint will automatically capture financial information from more than 3,500 financial institutions, which makes it a handy tool to keep your accounts up to date. And just like its competitors, it can send alerts to your mobile phone to tell you when to pay a bill. That said, Mint requires you to give it your account information to track your financial data. Although it's a trustworthy site, I just can't bring myself to entrust that information to a small firm.
Like Mint, Quicken Online is targeted at those who don't require complex financial tracking services. That said, Quicken Online will still do some heavy lifting and it does a fine job of monitoring and forecasting your financial picture.
Forecasting is Quicken Online's most compelling feature. On the service's main page, it shows what's left in your bank account, your risk of overdraft, your risk of a low balance, and the expected spending you will incur in the next 30 days. It derives that forecast from your bank accounts, investments, and other financial data. As long as all that information is accurate, Quicken will probably be right most of the time.
Quicken Online boasts a "Where am I spending?" page, which files all your spending into different categories, like groceries and electronics, to give you a full view of where your money is going. It then allows you to set goals to see if you can rein in spending.
Although Quicken Online is the most capable finance tracking software I used, it's not nearly as powerful as its desktop counterpart, and real power users probably won't find enough value to justify using it. But for the average person who has a mortgage, an investment account, and a couple bank accounts, it's worth using. Especially now that it's free.
Much like Geezeo, Wesabe employs the wisdom of its community to help you monitor spending and get advice on how to pay off debt sooner, while saving more money.
Just like the competing services, Wesabe lets you drop in your bank information, then starts tracking that data. It examines how you spend your money and helps identify areas where you could tighten your belt by providing tips from its community. For example, when Wesabe recognizes when you purchase groceries, it provides you with a list of tips from other users on how to save money for your next trip to the store. It also finds ways to pay off debt sooner by looking, once again, toward the community for help.
Unfortunately, Wesabe doesn't offer much more than that. It provides basic goals and tips wherever you turn, but if you want investment advice or more capable financial monitoring it's not ideal. Wesabe is aimed more at the beginner than anyone else.